press coverage

"It's better not to pollute the environment in the first place than to pay later to clean it up."

Archived Grant Recipient Success Stories and Articles

(Please note: Due to the short shelf-life of article links in daily publications, you may find that the direct link no longer leads to the article. We have also provided the publication's URL so that you can request an archived article, usually for a fee, if you want to read one in its entirety.)

  • Through the "Your Rights as a Florida Voter" flier and extensive outreach efforts, the Project raised awareness among the public about the rules concerning voter ID, the right to replacement ballots, and the right to assistance in the voting booth.
  • Through testimony in various settings, the Project contributed to the demise of the punchcard machine and to the creation of reasonable rules for determining voter intent.
  • Through the Major vs. Sawyer and Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, et al vs. Moore lawsuits, the Project hopes to eliminate voting laws that have a disproportionate racial impact and force the State to comply with laws whose non-enforcement is detrimental to minorities.
  • Past and current lobbying efforts have already brought problems with provisional balloting and the Voter Responsibilities to the top of the priority list for supportive state legislators.

Update: In April 2003, the Foundation made a time-sensitive, discretionary grant to the ACLU Foundation of Florida to provide support for the Voting Rights Restoration Campaign, which is a coalition effort to restore voting rights to ex-felons who have completed their sentences. Under the terms of a proposed judgment announced July 24 in Miami, as many as 30,000 persons in Florida who have completed a felony sentence may now have their voting rights restored. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU, Florida Justice Institute, and Florida Legal Services had contended that the Department of Corrections failed to help qualified prisoners submit the formal paperwork necessary for restoring their voting rights, as required by state law

From January 2002:
The ACLU Foundation of Florida (ACLU) created the Equal Rights Voting Project ("Project") to address the problems that surfaced during the November 2000 election process, particularly in Florida. Contrary to popular belief, many of the disparities and irregularities arose not only out of technological deficiencies, but also from outdated laws and policies that, intentionally or not, keep people from voting.

American Chemical Society, Santa Clara Valley Section

ACLU Foundation of Florida

The ACLU Foundation of Florida created the Equal Rights Voting Project ("Project") to address the problems that surfaced during the November 2000 election process, particularly in Florida. Contrary to popular belief, many of the disparities and irregularities arose not only out of technological deficiencies, but also from outdated laws and policies that, intentionally or not, keep people from voting.

The ACLU has made substantial progress in equalizing and regulating voting practices:

Kids at the CARVER Kidvention event
brainstorm ideas before designing their project.
Photo courtesy of American Chemical Society,
Santa Clara Valley Section

Young inventors proudly display their
finished experiment.
Photo courtesy of American Chemical Society,
Santa Clara Valley Section

The American Chemical Society (ACS), Santa Clara Valley Section, orchestrated the March 25, 2000, CARVER Kidvention event with a grant from the Kirsch Foundation. Held in San Francisco, CARVER Kidvention, named for the renowned agricultural (peanut) chemist, Dr. George Washington Carver, attracted over 200 area 3rd and 4th graders who explored hands-on science-based workshops. Some of the experiments students participated in included SCAMPER, a problem solving and brainstorming activity, as well as witnessing a safe chemical demonstration. The highlight of the day was students creating inventions of their own by preparing a slogan, trademark, price and selling plan. The young inventors then presented their inventions to an audience.
May 2000

American Musical Theatre of San Jose

The creative team for "The 3hree Muskeeters" participates in a discusion of the show following a staged reading.
From left to right: Paul Leigh, lyricist; George Stiles, composer; Peter Raby, book writer.
Photo courtesy of American Musical Theatre of San Jose.

The Kirsch Foundation provided American Musical Theatre of San Jose (AMTSJ) a grant of $200,000 to help fund its American premiere of the new musical, "The 3hree Musketeers". The show will be presented by AMTSJ in March 2001.

In summer 2000, AMTSJ held a series of workshops led by artistic director Dianna Shuster, who is directing the production. The show's British creative team, composer George Stiles, lyricist Paul Leigh, and book writer Peter Raby, attended and participated. At each workshop the show was staged in its entirety with a cast of eight Equity actors from New York and sixteen local performers before audiences comprised of subscribers, donors and industry professionals. At the conclusion of each staged reading, the creative team solicited input and written responses from the audience. The participants were extremely attentive, providing useful and sometimes pointed feedback! As the workshops progressed, the creative team and director Shuster made innumerable changes to the play. They added two scenes after the first weekend and rewrote 20 pages of the book to clarify character and plot. All in all, the workshops were a resounding success and AMTSJ and the Foundation expect the show to have a fabulous American premiere in 2001.
June 2001

Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund

Victory for Clean Air and Public Transit
With support from the Kirsch Foundation, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund won a court ruling requiring an increase in Bay Area transit use by 15 percent to help meet Clean Air Standards.

As part of its California Air Quality Campaign, which involves promoting and enforcing the Clean Air Act, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in February of 2001. The claim was that MTC never implemented a TCM2 (Transportation Control Measure) to increase transit use by making improvements to transit service and reliability. The transit operators were required to prepare plans to attract the additional riders. MTC admitted to adopting a 15 percent ridership increase target in 1982, but denied responsibility for actually reaching it. Nearly twenty years later, despite a 30 percent increase in population, the number of transit riders today in the Bay Area remains close to 1982 levels.

On November 9, 2001, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson declared that MTC, with the cooperation of the Bay Area's six major transit operators, must increase Bay Area public transit use by 15 percent above 1983 levels.

"We know how to clean up the Bay Area's air, and that is to offer clean, reliable transit alternatives so people can get out of their vehicles. Now the court has ordered MTC to make good on its commitment to improving and increasing transit use in the region," said Earthjustice attorney Deborah Reames.

Founded in 1971, Earthjustice is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the earth's natural resources and wildlife, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.
November 2001

East Community Resource Center

On December 1, 2000, the Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation awarded a grant to the St. Vincent de Paul Society as fiscal agent for the East Community Resource Center (ECRC). The grant was utilized to help purchase a building in east San Jose for use as a one-stop center meeting the emergency and longer-term needs of very low-income families and individuals in the community.

This project involved four local service providers: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, O'Connor Hospital, East San Jose Community Law Center at Santa Clara University, and St. Francis Career College. The ECRC services include a primary medical clinic, legal assistance, health education workshops, counseling, and job training for health care personnel.
June 2002

Update: As of July 2003, the project had raised a total of $4 million from both public and private sources, sold the initial site and found a better location, is beginning service delivery with a slightly different group of agencies, although the array of services remains extensive.

Environmental Working Group

With a grant from the Kirsch Foundation, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produced and released a report entitled "Particle Civics: How Cleaner Air in California Will Save Lives and Save Money." This report revealed how particulate matter (PM) pollution was costing Californians over 9,300 lives a year. The findings of the report were made from analysis of state data. Some of the findings of the report include:

  • Each year, particulate air pollution is responsible for more than 16,000 hospital or emergency room admissions, at an estimated health care cost of $132 million.
  • PM-related illnesses cause Californians to miss almost 5 million work days a year, a loss to the state's economy of more than $880 million.
  • Cutting particulate pollution to levels recommended by state scientists will reduce PM-triggered deaths by at least 69 percent, asthma attacks by 57 percent, hospital visits by 56 percent and cases of chronic bronchitis by 58 percent.

This report not only details the public health impacts in each county in California, but for the first time puts a price tag on the annual cost of particulate pollution.

State scientists have proposed tougher new air pollution standards to combat this problem, but they face strong opposition from a coalition of oil companies and automakers. EWG is urging the Air Resources Board to adopt and rigorously enforce the standards recommended by state scientists, as well as to eliminate the exemption from these standards that the agricultural industry of California has enjoyed.

Update: On June 20, 2002, the California Air Resources Board adopted the standards endorsed by EWG's report. This unanimous vote is for stricter particulate matter standards.
June 2002

The Health Trust - Washington School Health Center

We provided a $35,000 grant in 2000 to partially fund construction of a new medical facility at the Washington Elementary School Health Center. This school health clinic, co-located with a pilot program called "Smart Start", was planned to serve children in an area of San Jose, California, lacking in medical care. It was hoped that it would also serve as a model for the development of similar sites. As the capital project was completed and the center opened in October 2000, The Health Trust added a full resource and training center and expanded the Smart Start Center to include infant and parent education and training for teen mothers.

We are delighted that there has been a high-level of community acceptance of the health clinic as a neighborhood clinic. Further, the City of San Jose and local schools have been so impressed with the model and its potential that The Health Trust has already designed a second site that will be built at the W. C. Overfelt High School. And as the model expanded collaborative services, it caught the attention of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The Packard Foundation is now partnering with the City of San Jose and The Health Trust to create a master plan for all future sites. We are pleased with the success of this model and are proud that we helped inaugurate this new approach to providing community health and social services at school sites.
September 2001

Natural Resource Defense Council

NRDC-Dow Chemical Project
Wins Top Pollution Prevention Award
WASHINGTON (September 22, 1999)
The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable today presented the first place Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award to a joint project of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Dow Chemical Co. and several Michigan-based environmental organizations. The ceremony took place at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

NRDC representatives and project partners -- lead by senior scientist Linda Greer, Ph.D. (fifth from the left, holding award) -- proudly display their Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award. Photo courtesy of NRDC.

The award honors the most innovative and successful pollution prevention programs in the country. The joint project, called the Michigan Source Reduction Initiative, achieved dramatic pollution reductions over a two-year period at Dow’s Midland, Michigan, manufacturing site. It resulted in the overall reduction of more than 10.6 million pounds of waste and more than 1.4 million pounds of releases, representing more than a 37 percent cut in pollution. It also saved Dow more than $5 million a year while costing the company only $3 million to implement.

"We’re obviously thrilled to win this award," said Linda E. Greer, Ph.D., the NRDC senior scientist who spearheaded the project. "We believe the extraordinary results of our project point the way to a new generation of pollution reduction. Working collaboratively with local activists, and applying the best thinking of industry and environmental experts, we made Dow’s production process cleaner and more profitable. It doesn’t replace the need for environmental regulation, but it does open new avenues for achieving environmental goals."

The project partners included NRDC, Dow, Diane Hebert and Mary Sinclair (two Midland residents), Lone Tree Council, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, and the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor.

The judges for the Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Awards included panelists from the National Environmental Trust, the states of New Mexico and California, the University of Wisconsin, the city of Nashville, and independent pollution prevention experts. Applicants were judged on a variety of criteria, including innovation, measurable results, transferability, level of commitment from the participants, and the optimization of available resources.

Founded in 1985, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable is the largest national membership organization solely devoted to the improvement of environmental quality and economic competitiveness through pollution prevention.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served by offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Northern California Innocence Project

On January 23, 2002, the Northern California Innocence Project (Project) realized its first exoneration, when Fresno Superior Court Judge Ralph Nunez granted a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Ronald Reno. Reno was serving 25 years to life in Pleasant Valley State prison for felony possession of a firearm.

Santa Clara University (SCU) law professor Cookie Ridolfi, who is director of the Project and worked with attorney Linda Starr on the case, said that Reno had always maintained that the gun belonged to another man. That man, Preston Marsh, could not be located and Reno was pressured by his trial lawyer to plead guilty. The Project took over the case last spring after Reno encountered Marsh in prison. Ridolfi and Starr, working with SCU law students Ami Mudd and Marina Jorgensen, conducted research, obtained affidavits and filed the habeas corpus petition that was granted this week, freeing Reno.

The Project, operated by the SCU law school, was founded in February 2001 as part of the National Innocence Network and works to free inmates who are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. "Within its first year of operation, a client of the Northern California Innocence Project has been exonerated. This is a clear demonstration that there are in fact innocent people in California prisons, and much more work needs to be done to identify and free them," Ridolfi said. The Project now has a caseload of approximately 700 cases.
January 2002

Public Campaign

Clean Money Campaign in Arizona
Public Campaign has been able to reduce the influence of wealthy special interests over the political process in several states. In 1998 Arizona passed the Citizens Clean Elections Act and became one of the first four states to implement campaign finance reform efforts.

The Facts about Election 2002 in Arizona

  • 52% of all candidates in the General election ran as Clean Election Candidates
  • 70% of statewide candidates in the General election ran as Clean Election Candidates
  • 50% of legislative candidates in the General election ran as Clean Election Candidates
  • 66% of all Democrats ran as Clean Elections Candidates – 17 were elected
  • 39% of all Republicans ran as Clean Elections Candidates – 22 were elected

Arizona is the first state in the Union to have elected a Clean Elections

  • Governor
  • Secretary of State
  • Attorney General
  • State Treasurer
  • Mine Inspector
  • 2 Corporation Commissioners

Courtesy of the Clean Elections Institute Newsletter, Volume 10, Issue 8, Winter 2003
March 2003

Rebekah Children's Services

Rebekah Children's Services, located in Gilroy, California, provides a safe haven for children who have suffered from neglect and abuse. Recreational activities are an integral part of the way in which the organization supports these children. It had a 900 square foot activities building, constructed in the 1930s, that was dark, dreary, outdated and dilapidated with limited lighting resources inside. There was extensive flood and dry rot damage to the building and was unusable.

Some "before" shots of the children's recreation center at the Rebekah Children's Home.

The recently completed new recreation center on the Rebekah Children's Services campus in Gilroy .

The organization decided to raise money for a new 2,400 square foot recreation center and met its goal ($269,800) through gifts from several private sources and foundations, including a Kirsch Foundation $20,000 grant. Groundbreaking for the new facility took place in spring 2000. The new center provides a solid foundation for positive recreational activities and interaction for some of Santa Clara County's most severely abused and neglected children. The facility has an area for computers, a reading library, arts and crafts, kiln and ceramics and recreation equipment storage.
October 2000

Remote Sensing Institute

The state of California designed a Smog Check II program focusing on "Gross Polluters," or those vehicles that have at least two times the emissions allowed for their particular model, that was to be implemented by 1998. It requires use of remote sensing data as part of the evaluation process. Due to several problems within the state government (including the change in administration and the need to develop a competitive bid process for using remote sensing technology), the state had not implemented the program on time.

Remote sensing devices in action in Sacramento, California.
Photo courtesy of Ian Stedman.

The Foundation’s support enabled the Remote Sensing Institute to collect more than 75,000 usable measurements in several key California urban areas. Without our funding, the Inspection Maintenance and Review Committee, a state committee that oversees the smog check program, would not have been able to meet its February 2000 deadline for reporting on California emissions to the federal government. With the Foundation’s grant, California can use all four types of auto emission data collection processes (smog check test records, vehicle registration data, random roadside smog check measurements data, and extensive remote sensing data) and provide the most accurate picture of the current status of auto emissions. This should help the California Air Resources Board and other regulators to assess the steps that will be necessary to improve California’s air quality.
December 1999


Through its
support from the Kirsch Foundation, Spacewatch achieved a milestone by "rediscovering" the long-lost asteroid Albert. At the time of its original discovery 89 years ago at the Vienna Observatory, Albert was roughly 20 million miles from Earth, one of only two asteroids known to have come so close to our planet. With this monumental re-discovery, it can be safely said that current positions are known for every one of the 14,788 asteroids in the numbered sequence of discovered asteroids that began with the observation of the first in 1801. The good news is that it is believed Albert won't come any closer to Earth than it did in 1911 for the foreseeable future.
In September of 2001, Albert will again be close enough to view, allowing an excellent opportunity for careful study. During this future observation, a determination of its size (currently estimated at 2 miles in diameter), rotation period and other physical characteristics may be conducted.

In this image, taken some 80 million miles from Earth, Albert is the trailed object to the lower-right of the center of the photo. Picture courtesy of Andrew Lowe, Calgary, California, and the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Established in 1980 at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona,

Spacewatch is a survey of the whole solar system, from the vicinity of the Earth's orbit to beyond the orbit of Neptune.
September 2001

Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation

The Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation recently inaugurated its redesigned website at, with funding granted by the Kirsch Foundation. The purpose of the new website is to make available to the general public, as well as to medical specialists, valuable information being generated as a result of Steadman-Hawkins' orthopedic research, especially on knee and shoulder injuries/problems.

The site has already won three awards for design and content. In awarding the 2001 "Surfers Choice Award" the reviewer noted, "The Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation provides a simple and effective information-based website. Use of graphics is excellent, navigation is superb, and it is imminently clear as to its purpose. Our support of this site is essential to bringing awareness of its efforts in finding solutions to orthopedic problems that affect so many people." The site has also been awarded the International Association of Web Masters and Designers' 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 "Golden Web" awarded to sites "whose web design, originality, and content have achieved levels of excellence deserving of recognition."
March 2001

Success Story Articles

"The Best Political Candidates Money Can Buy"
We're in the thick of the campaign season and those contemplating running for public office in the future may be asked by colleagues what pushes them to consider a career in politics. In this op-ed piece, the author explores this question and discusses why the push for campaign finance reform is necessary. She describes the work of Public Campaign, a Foundation grantee, details the states that have jumped on the reform bandwagon, and shows why someone thinking of a political career would have a real shot at being elected in one of these states.
Chicago Tribune, Adele Simmons -- September 25, 2000

"Robotics Champs Savor Win"
This article highlights the smashing success of San Jose Foothill School's participation in the FIRST Robotics competition, recently held in Orlando, Florida. The nine-person team rose from 40th to first place in the contest. Steve Kirsch was a team captain on a prior FIRST Robotics team and the Foundation has supported FIRST's (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) efforts to involve young people in science.
The San Jose Mercury New, Lori Aratani -- April 11, 2000

"Clean Money: The Who, What, When, Where and How"
An online "Journal of Opinion", features Clean Money Campaign Reform, a principle based on the work of Public Campaign. This
article discusses the philosophy behind the campaign, voters’ beliefs and why there is such strong support for its implementation. -- April 3, 2000

"New National Survey Shows Robust Support for ‘Clean Money’, Full Public Financing of Elections"
excerpted from a news release by Public Campaign -- April 3, 2000

Monday, April 3, 2000
Contact: John Anthony


Washington – According to a new national survey, more than two-thirds of the public favors comprehensive reform of the campaign finance system offering full public financing to candidates in both primary and general elections, Public Campaign announced today.

"By a margin of 68 to 19%, voters support the idea of full public financing—Clean Money—for federal elections as is the law already in Maine, Arizona, Vermont and Massachusetts," said Ellen S. Miller, Public Campaign's president. "This model goes even further than those proposed by Al Gore and Bill Bradley in the presidential campaign. This survey shows the public is still way ahead of the politicians in understanding that the system needs a complete overhaul, though some politicians are beginning to catch on."

Other findings of the national survey of 800 likely voters (margin of error 3.5%), conducted for Public Campaign by The Mellman Group:

  • Majority support for Clean Money runs across every demographic group. Although Democrats (76% favor-15% oppose) and independents (71-14%) are most supportive, Republicans also favor it by more than a two-to-one margin (59-27%). Even self-identified "conservative Republicans" favor it by almost 20 points (51-32%).
  • The general public desire for campaign finance reform is substantial and rising. A clear majority (59%) favors major changes in the system, up from 52% in a similar Mellman Group poll in August 1996. This same percentage believes the problems with the current system are getting worse.
  • Voters are most upset about special interests influence-buying, when asked to rank their concerns about the system. "Buying help from politicians with campaign contributions" (36%) and "politicians becoming corrupted by campaign contributions, perks, and favors from special interests" (34%) were their central concerns.
  • Overwhelming majorities think special interest contributions affect the voting behavior of Members of Congress (87%), including even their own representative (82%). This suggests that Members' insulation from negatives about the institution of Congress in general is diminishing.
  • Voters have clear ideas about what constitutes reform. While some in Congress have proposed "reforming" the system by tripling the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $3,000, fewer than one in ten voters (9%) support this proposal. Over half (51%) want to keep the current limit, and almost a third (30%) favor reducing the limit to $500.
  • Voters also show little sympathy for one oft-used argument against campaign finance reform. Less than one-quarter (24%) believes a Member would oppose reform because he thinks, "that campaign finance reform was a limitation on free speech and would be bad for the country." By contrast, a clear majority (60%) thinks that a Member who opposes reform does so because he feels "that campaign finance reform would hurt his chances of getting re-elected."

"Loretta Green’s column"
The Kirsch Foundation recently made a grant to the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the American Chemical Society for the CARVER Kidvention program, an invention-based science workshop for school age children. Read Loretta Green’s colorful column on the event.
The San Jose Mercury News, Loretta Green -- March 22, 2000

"Money Trickling in for YMCA Expansion Project: Kirsch donation provides big boost."
article details the new facilities to be built at the YMCA Mid-Peninsula and the Foundation’s support that helped make the project a reality.
Los Altos Town Crier, March 8, 2000

"Hawking on Time"
World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking spent an evening with thousands of students at DeAnza College in Cupertino, California. The audience challenged and amused him with a variety of questions ranging from the complexities of the universe to television sitcoms.
The San Jose Mercury News, Glennda Chui -- January 22, 2000

"A New Frontier Aboard the Mars Direct"
Dr. Robert Zubrin, astronautical engineer and founder of the Mars Society, outlines his plan for exploration of the Red Planet.
The New York Times, Claudia Dreifus -- November 2, 1999